(Wolf Lake First Nation Chief Harold St. Denis introduced successful AFN motion against the Zibi condo project. APNT/Photo)
APTN National News
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) passed a resolution on Tuesday against a proposed high profile green condo development on islands in the Ottawa River that are sacred to the Algonquins.
The resolution, introduced by Wolf Lake First Nation Chief Harold St. Denis, passed by a vote of 12 to 4 with 90 abstentions because many of the chiefs at the Gatineau, Que., AFN assembly saw the issue as an internal Algonquin matter.
Under the assembly rules, a resolution passes if it receives 60 per cent of the votes, excluding abstentions.
“Now the AFN has a clear mandate to oppose the project,” said St. Denis.
The issue revealed a “rift” within the Algonquin Nation, said Cliff Meness, a councillor for Pikwakanagan, an Algonquin First Nation in Ontario which supports the project.
Pikwakanagan is the only federally recognized Algonquin band that supports the condo development.
“Sounds like there is going to be a little rift between the Algonquin people. I don’t think this is a place for this to happen,” said Meness, during a brief debate over the resolution. “This is an Algonquin issue that should be settled before it comes here.”
Meness had the support of the Ontario leadership which also believed the matter should remain internal between Algonquins.
Meness said his community’s leadership will now review the resolution to ensure it met the regulations. He didn’t think it would have much of an impact on the fate of the project, which is already under construction.
“The project is already on the go already, so they already started,” said Meness. “I guess we will have to sit and meet with these chiefs.”
The resolution directs AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde to contact the federal government, Ottawa city hall, Gatineau city hall, Quebec City and Queen’s Park and request they meet with the Algonquins from Quebec which have a claim over the proposed condo development site. The resolution calls for the area destined for the condo development to be instead handed over to an Algonquin-controlled entity to create a park and a commemoration site.
St. Denis said the Quebec Algonquins’ repeated letters on the issue have been ignored by all levels of government, from the municipal to the federal. He also said Pikwakanagan has also not responded to requests for a meeting.
“We are going to expect (the AFN) to follow through on what was proposed in the resolution to let the governments know what our position is,” said St. Denis. “Time is the issue here.”
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador passed an earlier resolution in opposition to the Zibi project which aims to build “the world’s most sustainable community.”
Zibis is also opposed by prominent architect Douglas Cardinal and writer John Raulston Saul.